One Chip Harvests Multiple Energy SourcesCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: July 9, 2012 12:21PM
Our world is rife with energy in the form of light, heat, and vibrations, and each of these three sources we can harvest, through different means though. Having to use different technologies to collect this energy makes it difficult to collect them all at once, but researchers at MIT have figured out a way to do it.
Other researchers have created devices with the appropriate technology to harvest these different sources, but they are limited to just working on one energy source at a time. This is because the different sources require different circuitry to control, due to each technology producing different amounts of energy. Traditionally the devices were designed to switch to the technology that is producing the most power at the time, but this means the other energy collected from the other sources will just go to waste. The MIT researchers changed that by including capacitors that will temporarily store the energy from these other sources, until it can be used.
As just collecting energy from all three sources at the same time is not enough for the MIT researchers, they decided to make their device with a dual-path architecture. What this allows is for the device to directly power whatever it is connected to. This is different from other, similar devices that would charge a battery, or other storage device, that would then power the sensor or whatever. Bypassing the storage system like this further increases the efficiency of the device. Potentially we could see the advances in this device being used for biomedical implants and other devices in remote locations that are difficult to power.